Ice creams - particularly impulse formats, flew off the shelves this year, as the long hot summer tempted consumers towards the freezer. The handheld sector showed impressive growth of 7.6%, while ice cream tubs also grew, although at a less impressive 0.9%.

The notoriously weather-sensitive category is beginning to reap the rewards of manufacturers' and retailers' attempts to extend the season and change the nation's perception of ice cream as just a summer product, to one that is an everyday, all-year-round dessert option.

Premium and healthy products proved to be strong growth areas, a trend which is likely to continue. Premium, in particular, is likely to continue to benefit from the increasing popularity of the 'big night in', when consumers are happy to splash out on posher offerings.

Valued at £423m, hand-held offerings account for the largest scoop of the market. Magnum continues as favourite - its sales were boosted 11.8% to £70.8m - and is worth nearly twice its nearest competitor Cornetto. The only hand-held brand not achieving growth was Cadbury Flake, which dropped 15.6%.

In tubs, Carté d'Or held on to its first place by increasing sales 3.3%. Sales were helped by Unilever's attempt to tap into the demand for lighter, healthier products by offering both ice cream and yoghurt lovers a treat, with a combination of the two united under the bestselling brand. Launched in March, Carté d'Or Greek Yoghurt & Honey replaced the Terry's Chocolate Orange variant

It was a different story for Wall's, which fell 11.8%, reflecting the hunger for premium offerings. Number three brand Ben & Jerry's was perfectly positioned to benefit from this trend, however, and grew an impressive 16.8%. The company developed what it claimed to be the UK's first Fairtrade ice cream, and pledged a long-term commitment to more ethically-sourced ingredients.n